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Bernie Ecclestone's strategy of continuing Formula 1's relationship
with tobacco sponsors at seemingly any cost
is raising the ire of motor racing purists.
As European bans on sponsorship become increasingly likely,
Ecclestone plans to move races from traditional circuits to countries that
have no foreseeable plans to ban tobacco sponsorship.
Rumour has it that among the courses to be axed from the F1...
Rumour has it that among the courses to be axed from the F1 schedule
is the venerable Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium. Wriitng in the Guardian (26
August, 2002), Richard Williams assesses the history of the track and the
reasons for its apparent imminent loss of F1 status.
"Incredibly" he says, "Spa is said to be high on Bernie Ecclestone's
hit-list of circuits that may lose their formula one race in order to
accomodate newcomers to the calendar."
That Spa's loss has less to do with it's inherent quailites than
tobacco sponsorship appears obvious, "Should the worst happen, the
immediate beneficiary is likely to be China, the UAE, Bahrain or Turkey.
Ecclestone's desire to spread formula one to new markets - and preferably
markets with no immediate plans to ban tobacco advertising- admits to no
sentiment or even to a sense of history."
Notwithstanding evidence on the impact of advertising in sport, the
powers that be in F1 have little interest in seeing tobacco sponsorship
curtailed anytime in the near future.
Bernie Ecclestone, the man most responsible for F1's recent dramatic
growth is on record as saying a ban on tobacco advertising isn't needed as
it would have a negligible impact on the smoking habits of its millions of
'If tobacco was killing people it was doing so a long time ago. There
has been no evidence, ever, that people who watch [F1] smoke. No one has
ever proved that to me. Kids smoke because they think it's the right thing
to do. It's more likely they do so because their parents or the people who
surround them smoke. All the tobacco commercial says is, "If you are
smoking, smoke our brand". It doesn't say "Smoke!"'